Legal News

China Visas: Just The Facts

China visas

The Beijinger does a stellar job setting forth the current state of China visas in China Visa – Facts and Fiction. Highlights from the post’s “What We know for sure” section are as follows:

1. L (tourist) visas require documents showing your “outbound and return flight booking and stamped (chopped) hotel reservation for the complete duration of stay. If staying at a relative’s house, proof of kinship (marriage / birth certificate) and copies of his/her passport, visa, residence permit and police registration need to be provided.”

2. F (business) visas require “flight booking, stamped (chopped) hotel reservation and original invitation letter from a relevant department of the Chinese government, company or institution, under the authorization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.”

3. L and F visas are being issued as single entry 30 day visas unless “your flight bookings (e.g. to Hong Kong) are provided to prove double entry is needed. “To obtain a visa for a longer duration, a full travel itinerary needs to be provided. The visa application form has been changed to a much more detailed version.”

4. F visa extensions “in China are only possible until June 30th, 2008.”

5. Hong Kong is no longer much of a solution as “the Visa office in Hong Kong requests all foreign passport holders that do not have a Hong Kong residence permit to apply for visas in their respective home country” and “Visa applications in other Asian countries seem to be just as difficult.” “A list of 33 countries whose nationals need to apply for visa in their respective home country has been published; however, restrictions also seem to apply to other nationals.”

6. Z visas(work) “have not been affected by the new policies.”

7. “The authorities are increasingly tracking down foreigners without valid visas and Registrations of Temporary Residence. Foreigners overstaying their visas are charged any where between RMB 500 to RMB 5,000/day. According to multiple reports, foreigners without a valid visa must expect to be awarded the red “has to leave China within ten days” stamp in their passport, which will make it nearly impossible to apply for a new visa.”

The above gibes with what our China lawyers based in China are hearing. See also, China Visa Certainty: Z (employee) Visas Are Z Best.

I discussed visa issues just last night with co-blogger Steve Dickinson, who has an article on this due out soon for the China Economic Review. Based on his conversations with Chinese lawyers and with Chinese government officials, Steve is of the view that this visa tightening is permanent and will not end after the Olympics.

What are you seeing out there?

14 responses to “China Visas: Just The Facts”

  1. It has been a fun 4 years in Beijing but it is time to leave China for good. Really happy on my decision to hold off on investing/registering a company in China. Will take my money elsewhere…

  2. Anybody know if policies for student and work visas in Chengdu have been affected by the earthquake?

  3. I am currently on a “F” Visa, which expires in June.
    Having been defrauded by a chinese girl, in whose name I bought a house, due to having difficulty in buying it in my own name,and who sold the house for much less than cost, immediately after I had completed fitting out and furnishing it, I need to stay in China to try to obtain justice.
    The process of doing this has been delayed for over four months becuse of the police refusal to help. Thery have insisted on taking the simplistic view- “It was in her name, she was entitled to sell it”, and ignoring the agreements that had been drawn up and signed in the Notary office.
    They would not even accept a formal complaint until three months after the event, and that was done, only after I had refused to leave their office unless they did so.
    Now, having been contacted by my consulate, who wrote to the local Foreign Affairs Bureau, they have replied to say that they are now looking for the girl, and they have told the Foreign Affairs Office. that they will extend my visa, but I understand that I must have the papers lodged in court.
    I want to proceed with the case as fast as possible but the difficulty that I see is that I am not sure what the lawyer that I have employed will state to the court on my behalf as yet. He was giving all sorts of assurances as to what he could and would do, until such time as he had got a substantial advance payment.
    I understand that he can present the case to the court in such a way as to get the court to accept that it is a “fraud” case, and then instruct the police to investigate it as such.
    Subject to another meeting with the lawyer, complete with translator, I suspect that he does not want to do this for some reason, or cannot see the point, although I have been told by more than one that this is possible.
    If this can be done and fraud can be proven the chances of retrieving the house and substantially reducing loss would be much improved , as opposed to his simply taking a legal case for recovery of sale proceeds, which are less than 60% of value.
    Also, if that is the route he goes, while I will almost certainly win the case, the victory could well be pyrrhic as the money could be untraceable.
    The basic reason for having the police do it, is that the lawyer states that he cannot carry out an investigation and get answers from the parties to the fraud, like the police can. I have offered that we would cooperate with the police in the investigation and consideration of information obtained but it has fallen on deaf ears.
    I have less than two weeks before my visa expires, and I am very concerned that I may be railroaded into adopting a course of action which might buy time, but which could guarantee ultimate failure.
    Sometimes it appears as if the organs of state conspire with these chinese citizens to enable them to defraud the foreigner.
    I am over 60, so getting a “Z” visa for either teaching, or a job in business is difficult, if not well nigh impossible.
    I do have a Hong Kong company, and I wonder how I might use that to obtain a “Z” visa, which I really need to facilitate freedom to travel in and out of China, as the need arises.
    I understand that if I can register a representative office here, I can obtain a “Z” visa, but there is a problem with locating a suitable commercial office here if that is true.
    Any suggestions as to what I could do, or should do, at this time, or from anybody who thinks he can do the job, would be gratefully received.

  4. Dan,
    Could you be more specific about who in the Chinese government has told Steve that new policy is permanent? I have strong doubts for several reasons:
    1) Several comments from official sources have clearly indicated that the tightening is related to the Olympics. For example, in this article in the China Daily, the Foreign Ministry comes out directly and says that the new policies around multiple entry visas will be in place “for a period of time” — i.e., the are temporary. It may be that some of the current restrictions will remain after the Games, but clearly some will be rescinded once their rationale is gone.
    2) I don’t see how anyone can say that the new rules are permanent, when no one even seems to know what the new rules are. It appears that there is widespread confusion even within the government on what exactly is and is not allowed – thus Beijinger’s inability to get any kind of policy clarification from either the PSB or Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Clearly different visa issuing bodies have implemented policies differently. I was able to easily get a 1yr multiple entry F visa in the U.S. shortly after the crackdown started in April. Others have not been so lucky.
    3) Once the (misguided?) security concerns around the Olympics are past, I see little benefit and much cost to China for maintaining most aspects of the new policy. Some powerful constituencies are huge losers, for example Hong Kong and Guangdong — SCMP reported that Shenzhen has started issuing 5-day visas at Lo Wu again, which I can only interpret as an act of defiance against the new rules. Visitors to Beijing were down sharply as well. If the goal is to prevent informal employment of foreigners, there are much simpler restrictions that could be applied to F visas that would not affect legitimate business as much.
    In the end, my bet is that common sense will prevail. We may end up with a less convenient visa system than we had before, but I see no reason to think most of these restrictions will be in place permanently.

  5. For those married to a Chinese national and not on a Z-visa but the multi-entry one year L (used for family reunification purposes)expect no problems. Mine was extended without any problems for another year. I am not working in China and permitted to stay as long as I want to stay with my family. Marriage certificate and proof of stay (home-ownership or lease) is all that was needed.

  6. One may think that at least for the Olympics, the chinese would loosen up a bit… however, I’m sure the cultural impact of so many people from around the world is going to change them far more than they think it can… who knows, maybe this olympics mark the opening of the chinese to the new world we are living in…

  7. Probiscus,
    It’s not a nice situation to be in but…if you buy a house in a girls name it is legally hers and she can do what she wants with it (same as if you bought a house in someone else’s name in the US, UK or any western country).
    The legal system in China does not work even remotely like it does in the west. My opinion as to your recourse is to track down her family and do your best to ruin their reputation. Revenge against family goes far more deep than suing someone in court.

  8. I think Derek’s comment was directed towards NY, not me. But I agree with it. I had a friend in a similar situation who bypassed the theif and went directly to the theif’s family with her complaint, which caused the family shame, which helped my friend somewhat.

  9. I think the sad thing about this visa situation is that in many cases it is companies who have been doing things not strictly as they should be done, and yet it is the employees who suffer the greatest consequences.
    As an example, I worked for a large international law firm in China for 18 months in a support (ie non-lawyer) role, and was on an F visa the whole time. I was fully aware of my situation, and in fact prepared a memo for the HR department detailing the legal risks of working on an F visa, and requesting that some attention be given to the matter.
    The memo was completely ignored, due to the Hong Kong based HR manager (i) not caring; (ii) thinking that the China based office manager would be able to find a way to sort any problem out; (iii) being ignorant about China; and (iv) being incompetent.
    I am currently still on an F visa, and my status in China is now uncertain, as although my current employer is willing to help me apply for a residence permit, this is taking time, and might not be possible before the Olympics.
    The irony of the situation is that one of the reasons I gave up my free-wheeling life (teaching, writing, studying) to work for a law firm was because I wanted to regularise my status in China – I realised that an F visa could not be any basis for long-term plans.
    I do think these events should serve as a reminder that even though many people, Dan included, often argue that the legal environment is getting more and more stable and predictable, large amounts of slack in the application of the law still remain in many areas, and this slack can be taken up at a moment’s notice when political imperatives require it.
    Foreign individuals should be clearly aware of this when making long-term plans involving China.
    As an aside, a question: under Chinese law, could there be any comeback for an employee against a company (or representative office, in the case of a law firm) which unreasonably refuses to apply for proper visas for foreign employees? In the context of the recent focus on employment law, I’m curious what an employee could theoretically do in this situation.

  10. I think the visa situation is a quite rational response by the government to the issues raised by the uprising in T*bet and the Olympic torch controversy. They have suddenly realised that they need to keep tabs on the foreigners who come in and out of the country. Is this really any different to the attitude of any Western Government?
    That is not to say the situation does not suck, particularly with all the beaurocratic incomptence we know and love about the PRC. My personal opinion is that things will regularise after the Olympics, but the free and easy regime we have been used to is well and truly over.

  11. “They have suddenly realised that they need to keep tabs on the foreigners who come in and out of the country. Is this really any different to the attitude of any Western Government?”
    Good for China. But unfortunately Neil, it is very different from the attitudes of most Western governments around the world. Most Western governments have been seduced by the notion that multiculturalism and diversity are ideals that should form the cornerstones of their nations. In America, for example, even after 911 the Bush administration and prominent Republicans like McCain are advocating “paths to citizenship” for “migrant workers”, i.e. amnesty for illegal aliens who have marched in the streets by the 100s of thousands waving Mexican flags and banners that read “Aztlan”, a name that stands for a country that radicals want to carve out of the U.S. for settlement by Chicanos and Latinos. England won’t stop Muslim immigration into the country even after native-born English citizens killed dozens in bus bombings. Frequently, those who suggest commonsense immigration policies are hounded as racists, whatever that word means, by their own government representatives. So the attitudes of the governments are tremendously different.
    I remember when I first moved to China, and lived in my first apartment, a woman came up to me speaking Chinese, but I could not understand her. A Chinese friend of mine contacted the woman by phone. She was just trying to ensure that I had registered with the local police station so she had gone ahead and checked on her own after I couldn’t understand her. I thought, “if only we could get a system like that in place in the States, we could prevent future 911’s.”

  12. An email my friend received when trying to get a Z visa to continue working legitimately at his small Chinese company:
    Dear Matt,
    We were really sorry and regret to inform you that you do not through your immigration processing in Beijing labor bureau finally.
    The reason was, the bureau changed the policy day by day without any official’s notification and actually we did succeed submitting by last week and also got informed will be received from authority after 10 working days.
    But the labor bureau just called me this week and let us to take back all required documents, here below are reason we’ve been told by bureau.
    1. It will have more difficulties to obtain any China visas or permit currently, even we were still try to help.
    2. The bureau will try to make longer procedure and created more inconvenience for the any legally permits application.
    3. This will be very tricky situation for visa application thus, the border have record for every foreigner’s back and forth and almost will be hold SINGLE entry Z-visa re-entry again. Unfortunately, you are not the lucky ones.
    4. They also indicated that today was, working visa application is no longer to get if you are not working in the top 500 company.
    5. And immigration policy is different for each country and individual person background as well.
    Therefore, the Olympics are approaching, the conditions at the moment is a very different from normal than us to expecting, consequences will leads you to bear much damage cost which was we are feel sorry about and we were so frustrated by your case and have to cover all the cost of submitting, government fee even transportation fee.
    Although we are anxious to open up business with you, we regret that it is impossible for us to try again from bureaus.
    We hope you could understand.
    I think Z visas have been affected to some degree, as this agent’s company is shutting down their business completely till after the Olympics.

  13. What exactly is a “stamped (chopped) hotel reservation” and how does one obtain such a thing in the US?

  14. A question, not a comment.
    A friend, who is a Kazakhstani citizen, took up a job in here in Shenzhen. He followed the expected procedures (medical, letter of invitation, etc) and arrived with a one month, single entry visa expecting to then receive a work permit.
    This has not happened as the company involved has said that Kazakhstani citizens cannot now work in China.
    Does anyone have any current information on this issue?
    Thank you.

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